Houston Music

The Suffers Light Up Late-Night TV the Right Way

Houston's The Suffers delivered a gangbusters performance of "Gwan" on The Late Show With David Letterman Monday night, leaving the longtime late-night host giddy and the show's bandleader, Paul Shaffer, chirping "Mighty! Mighty!" as the credits rolled.

A track from their self-released debut EP Make Some Room, "Gwan" opened with a fanfare from the group's three-man horn section and driving Latin pulse courtesy of the congas of percussionist Jose "Chapy" Luna and Nick Zamora, whose bass drum bore the skeleton of Houston's highway system. The entire band's energy started at "up" and finished somewhere in the ozonosphere.

But was almost impossible to look away from singer Kam Franklin, who strutted, stomped and shimmied over most of the territory between Letterman's desk and Shaffer's CBS Orchestra, much more ground than the show's musical guests normally cover. Her arms threw a few jabs here and there, and when it was time for the song's refrain, Franklin planted her boots and sang from a part of the diaphragm that normally only experienced gospel singers can reach. She nailed it; if Franklin had been outside, you could have probably heard her across the Hudson River in New Jersey.

After the group told their fans back home "Houston, you are with us tonight" earlier in the day on social media, their performance was met with an avalanche of hurrahs. But they could hardly be more effusive than Letterman himself, who -- before hugging Franklin and kissing her on the top of the head -- said, "if you can't do this, get out of the business."

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray